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By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers are on a little streak of happy starting pitching, at least by 2016 standards. For the 14th time in their past 15 games, their opening hurler reached the five-inning checkpoint — not Koufaxian by any means, but the majority of the game nonetheless.
This is happening while the franchise currently employs 14 relievers — no, that’s no lie — on its active roster. So with an off day beckoning in a close game, Dave Roberts played himself some cards.
The Dodgers used six relievers to handle the sixth through eighth innings, before Kenley Jansen closed the ninth for a 3-1 victory and series sweep over Arizona.
Los Angeles fared far better than San Francisco, which employed eight relievers tonight at Colorado and still blew a 5-3 lead in the ninth, to fall a season-high five games behind the Dodgers in the National League West.
Following fellow freshmen Jose De Leon, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling, right-hander Brock Stewart gave the Dodgers four consecutive victories by rookie starting pitchers, unprecedented in Dodger history.
Perhaps more remarkably, the Dodgers won by scoring their three runs with only two hits through seven innings. In the first inning, walks to Howie Kendrick and Justin Turner sandwiched an RBI double by Corey Seager (2 for 4), and Yasiel Puig hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead.
The Dodgers didn’t get their next hit until the sixth inning, when Puig homered. The right fielder, who also walked, is 4 for 9 with three walks and five RBI in 13 plate appearances since his return from the minors this month.
Stewart, nicely followed up his five shutout innings August 28 against the Cubs with five innings of one-run ball tonight (albeit with only one strikeout), pitching out of trouble in a couple of innings after Paul Goldschmidt’s RBI double in the first. Dave Roberts was pleased with how Stewart pitched, considering he didn’t have his “A stuff.”
The 24-year-old Stewart became the fifth Dodger pitcher to get his first MLB win this year.
Roberts used four relievers (J.P. Howell, Louis Coleman, Luis Avilan and Jesse Chavez) to face four Arizona batters in the sixth. In the seventh, Chavez struck out A.J. Pollock with the tying runs in scoring position, and then after an intentional walk to Goldschmidt, Grant Dayton struck out Rickie Weeks with the bases loaded. Pedro Baez pitched a shutout eighth.